A couple months ago, I asked for words from you to help me think. After I asked, I kept writing, but I didn’t use your words. I needed to keep finding mine. But it’s time to go back.
One of my friends said that the word that kept coming to mind for him was deepening intimacy. As I think back to those early days of hunkering down (as it was called in Indiana) or lock down (as it was called other places), the experience of some people was more time together. The experience of others was physical isolation. The experience of still others was spending time together at work, sorting out together what enhanced precautions meant to how we did our work. And in some households, like ours, there is a mixture. I go to work at the hospital and am engaged in conversation and work. I come home where Nancy has been alone. And we are together without going to the places we usually go.
We think that if we had more time, we’d get closer. We think that if only things would stop, we’d get closer. We have a list of “if only” things that are keeping us from better knowing ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and God.
In the past couple months, many of the “if onlys” have changed for many people. And many of us have discovered that rather than intimacy deepening, anxiety has deepened. As things have stopped, we’ve gotten scared about what is happening now, what might happen in the future. We watch the ones we love go into scary places and worry about them and ourselves. We live with people who are at risk. We watch our jobs slipping away. We watch people get more and more passionate about positions. And we realize that people are scared.
Scared looks angry and defiant and defensive and cynical and condemning. Scared almost never looks intimate or compassionate or encouraging.
When I think about a phrase I’ve taught about, “Be still and know that I am God,” I realize that I’ve often thought about it in the context of God’s power. After all, it comes at the end of Psalm 46, after the destruction of weapons of war.
But as I think about Kiley’s invitation to reflect on intimacy, there is a different sense. God is inviting us to an understanding of a loving relationship. It is hard to see that in our anxiety and fear. And so, to the noise around, God says, “be still” and then to us he says, as a shepherd, “I am your God.”